The weather forecast predicted rain starting around noon but at the start of the Experimental Aircraft Association Rally there was only an overcast around 11,000 feet.
Joel Hargis, the Chief Pilot for EAA Chapter 534, saw the weather window of opportunity to complete the day’s Young Eagle first flights before the rains arrived at the Leesburg International Airport. All the flights on Saturday would be well below the cloudy ceiling and were completed before anyone got wet.
These Young Eagle flights are given free of charge to young people 8 to 17 years of age to familiarize them with the joy of flying in a general aviation aircraft.
It is hoped this experience will inspire these youngsters to become private pilots or seek out some other career path in Aerospace when they get older.
On this day 18 kids, along with parents and extended family members showed up at the EAA Chapter 534 hangar at the Leesburg airport.
Chapter 534 offers this chance for kids to fly once a month, weather permitting.
All they have to do is appear at the EAA hangar at the airport on rally day with a parent or guardian, complete the paperwork and be assigned a chapter pilot who will introduce them to the wonder of flight in their private aircraft.
In some instances, the child may be given the chance, once in the air, to take control of the aircraft under the watchful eye of the EAA pilot. This gives them the feel of actually flying the airplane, and there is little they could do wrong that the pilot couldn’t quickly correct. Generally, these flights will last 20 to 30 minutes.
To sign your child up for a Young Eagle Flight in your area you should go to the following website, www.youngeagles.org . Once there, look for “Find A Young Eagle Flight”.
Many EAA Chapters across the country offer these free flights for young people at local airports. The above website will help you find the chapter closest to you.
After each flight young persons will receive a certificate commemorating the flight, and an official log book both signed by their pilot.
In addition, the Young Eagle gets free access to the Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course online. This has Embry Riddle flight instructor support. Included is a free voucher for a first flying lesson and access to flight training awards, aviation scholarships and EAA Air Academy camperships.
On this day 18 young people qualified to Fly as Young Eagles. The chapter provided 8 fixed wing, single engine general aviation aircraft and 8 EAA Chapter 534 pilots. They volunteered their time and fuel to ensure the kids had a memorable flight.
The chapter also provided 12 ground personnel to handle the paperwork and safely escort the kids and their parents or guardians back and forth to the airport ramp.